And yet, here I am, penning Fortune Favors Fools, the third in the Sarah Walker perspective series. And I’ll even admit it outright: writing from inside Sarah Walker’s head is just as much fun, if not more, than from Chuck’s*. There, that wasn’t at all like throwing kerosene onto a forest fire. Ooh, like at the shiny lights.
So I was talking to mxpw, and it was mentioned that I should write a blog post about how to write Sarah, since she’s a character a lot of people feel that I write well. It sounded like a good idea, and hey, I'm vain, so I scribbled down a few rules based on tricks I had used while bringing Fates Sarah from my imagination, where she hates me, to the screen where you read her.
Note: I made most of these rules up in the very same chat, and they’re meant to be taken a little tongue in cheek, so get out those grains of salt, please!
Frea’s Guide to Frakking Up Sarah Walker
1) Make her neurotic.
No, really, neurosis is always funny. People love it when the main character can barely hold it together, no matter what her poker face is telling you. It just makes them feel better about their lives when somebody so kickass is usually ten seconds away from shattering into a million pieces.
2) Don't make her neurotic.
Seriously, she got to be where she is in life by being good at something, despite what “Other Guy” would have us believe. Making her an emotional mess is just messing with her. Stop that.
3) Lust is a Must.
You think I'm kidding? Why the hell do you think people love the Adorable Psycho so much? Driving your character weak at the knees and hungry in more ways than one is always so much fun to write and read. Try it sometime. Make her think straight when Chuck is wearing nothing but work-out shorts and sweat. Go on, I dare you.
4) A Wisecrack or Two Never Hurt Anyone.
Seven years of Buffy taught me two things: if you don't have a stake, a shovel will work in a pinch. And more importantly, a good wise-crack will make up for everything, including almost having your ass handed to you by a vampire named after the most religious day of the week. Your Sarah doesn't even have to be a good wise-cracker. Her pathetic attempts at wit can be the best part! Don't believe me? Look at Sarah's nicknames for any of the canon characters in Fates, and how she reacts when they (rightfully) mock her.
5) Issues? What Issues?
Oh, fine. Give her issues. Make her hate her job, make her hate her dad. Hell, even give her commitment issues if you feel you must. Having conflict in her life, external, internal, just means there are obstacles to overcome. And you know what obstacles mean, right? That's right: instant need to cheer your character on.
Or laugh uproariously when she falls flat on her butt in the mud. But maybe that's just me.
6) Perfection is boring.
No, really, it is. Give her a bad day every once in awhile, let her fumble around, say the wrong thing, make the wrong joke, hit the wrong suspect in the chest with a bazooka. It'll mean more paperwork for her, but that's her problem, not yours.
7) There is no spoon.
Yeah, yeah, I know. This one's tough. Canon Sarah doesn't seem to like much but concealing the truth, her knives, occasionally intimidating Morgan, and Chuck. But I tell you, giving her something to do, or frustration at having nothing to do, has worked wonders in Fates. The art of a well-rounded character is being a well-rounded person, or failing at being a well-rounded person as she strives to become one. Habits taken from the show (shoulder bump, anyone? Fates Sarah: yes, please), habits you create, hobbies, personal quirks and tics, when used discretely and wisely, all add to creating the most dynamic character you can get.
9) A Good Partner Helps.
Seriously, the key to a great Sarah is a great Chuck. What I never understand is why people want to read a story where one of the character is awesome and can do anything, yet seems to want to spend time with a character that can do nothing right and is viewed as seriously below his or her social level. Your characters need to want to be together, which means they need appeal. Not necessarily sex appeal (though it can’t hurt!) but genuine, “Oh, Chuck’s cool and aww!” appeal. Things in common, maybe, or natural charisma. It makes your character so much easier to like and empathize with.
When all else fails, strip Sarah down and dangle her from the ceiling by her wrists. You can claim it's for the plot.
So there you have it, some tricks of the trade you can use when you sit down next to write your very own version of our favorite
* This is true only, I feel, because we see Sarah’s poker mask from Chuck’s perspective, which adds an amusing sort of giddiness to being inside her head. Like a mystery being unraveled, if you will. Without Chuck’s perspective, I highly doubt Sarah would be as alluring.
** Just kidding! Double Agent rocks!